Monday, March 06, 2006

H.R. 4167, Just Vote No!

Trying to keep an eye on Congress could be a fulltime job, it seems. Keeping an eye on them and letting people know what they're up to. Good thing I don't have to do it myself, but bad thing that there are so damn many things to keep an eye on all at the same time. This latest concern comes almost too late - pay attention, the House will most likely vote on this bill, HR 4167, this week. This squib from the NRDC explains it in brief:

The House of Representatives is scheduled to vote in the next few days on a bill that would eliminate nearly 200 state and local food safety laws. Backed by food industry lobbyists, the bill, which has never been the subject of congressional hearings, would effectively dissolve critical food safety protections in all 50 states that are not identical to federal standards. Many of these food safety laws, however, are more stringent than federal laws.

Right now states can enact laws to protect their residents when the federal government fails to do so, and in many cases states lead the way in food safety protections. For example, California required labels on alcoholic beverages that list the potential dangers of alcohol to pregnant women before the federal government did so, and even goes beyond current federal law by requiring California restaurants and bars to post such warnings as well. Some states require warnings that alert people to irradiated food, chemical additives that can cause cancer, and fish that have excessively high levels of mercury, which can cause birth defects. Other states pass laws aimed at protecting the public from contaminated shellfish or eggs.

Every year millions of Americans suffer from food-borne illnesses and thousands of them die. The bill the House will vote on this week would make it even harder for states to protect their residents from food-borne health threats.

What to do:Send a message right away urging your representative to vote No on this dangerous bill (H.R. 4167).

NRDC also has an action page where it is easy to send an email to your reps urging their negative vote. For a story with more information, check this SF Chronicle article: Battle opens on food labeling proposal. You've really gotta wonder what's going on here, as Jeff of Sustainablog notes in his entry on this subject:

Jon Coifman at NRDC made an interesting comment when he emailed me about this: "...a bill that effectively wipes out more than 200 food safety and labeling rules in 50 states has suddenly started to move, after having been dormant for ages. There have been no hearings, and hardly any public debate." So, we've got to wonder: what's the rush? Why on earth would the Congress feel the need to suddenly hurry up on such an important matter? Finally, what ever happened to the passionate defense of states' rights that we used to hear from these folks?

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"It is the logic of our times
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-- Cecil Day-Lewis from Where Are The War Poets?


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